So what makes a good quotation to use in public speaking to build credibility and convey your message?
Answering the following questions may help a speaker choose suitable quotations:
1. Will most of the people in my audience know by reputation the person I quote?
2. Will they accept him as an expert or an authority on my subject?
3. Is the quotation I plan to use closely related to my subject? Does it really support my point?
4. Is the quotation reasonably short? Does it make good sense? Easy to understand?
5. Is this quotation too well-known; has it been used so often -it has become trite? (Examples: “Birds of a feather flock together — Honesty is the best policy,” etc.)
6. Are these the most effective quotations I can find? With a little more effort could I find better ones?
Usually the most useful quotations are statements made by authorities on a subject. At the best, a quotation is merely an opinion, and to be most effective it should be expert opinion.
Willie Jones, the “juke-box kid,” may know as much about dancing as Arthur Murray. But a quotation from Murray on that subject would probably be more impressive than one from Willie.
A local pastor, William Smith, may know as much about dy¬namic preaching as Billy Graham. But a quotation from Graham would probably be more effective.
When a speaker does quote an unknown or little-known per¬son he should tell the audience briefly why this person’s state¬ments should be accepted. For example: Jim Evans, who, by actual count, caught five times more fish last year than anyone else in town, says . . . Or, Lowell Abbott, who has just completed his fortieth year as a banker, says . . .
A quotation may have the wisdom of a sage or the beauty of a symphony, yet if it is not accepted by the audience it has no value for that group. Prejudice, immaturity, or closed minds may cause an audience to reject authoritative statements. Many peo¬ple are especially touchy, even unreasonable, when listening to speeches about politics, religion, or social customs. “If he said that I wouldn’t believe it, even if it is true!” springs from a closed mind. But a wise speaker will understand his audiences, and will quote from authorities who will cause his listeners to nod yes instead of no.
Quotations should be reasonably short and to the point. Long ones tire an audience. Besides short statements are more easily remembered.
Quotations are a powerful way to persuade your audience when used effectively. If you are want to be a more effective speaker at work or in public enter your details in the box to the right and receive our free e-course over 7 days to help you achieve that goal.